Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Ethan is the great-grandson of my oldest brother, or would have been had Leland not passed away in 1998. This is the post I did about that. (I just re-read it and got all teary-eyed emotional.) How he would have "LOVED" to be around to see this child born.
As for me...well, I'm happy enough, I suppose. The fact that Ethan is my great, "great" nephew does somehow cast a pall on the occasion, however. I tell ya, this growing old thing is for the birds.
So, welcome, Baby Ethan. Give 'em hell...before they give it to you!!
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
Monday, June 20, 2011
Sunday, June 19, 2011
The problem is, my eyes -- like the rest of me -- are old and tired and worn out, and they don't "read" so well anymore, so I thought, "what the heck." I'm an electronic gizmo junkie anyway, and most of my friends were surprised I didn't have one already. So, I bit the bullet, bought the Kindle, and I'm so glad I did.
I read...maybe...two books in all of 2010, and I've already read six books since the first of May, including "Treasure Island," a novel I had never read...never really had an interest in reading, sad to say. But I have discovered that a great many of the classics; i.e., Dickens, Austen, Dumas, Bronte, etc., are available for download at no cost, so my Kindle is "fully" stocked with a rather eclectic reading list...and all at my fingertips. I'm loving it!
Now, back to the reason that prompted this post. I just started reading "The Help" by Kathryn Stockett; I became interested in it when I saw the trailer for the movie last week. In case you are not familiar with the book, it is about a young white woman in early 1960s Mississippi who becomes interested in the circumstances of several black ladies' maids, and she relates their stories of mistreatment and abuse and heartbreak endured while working in the homes of their white employers. The movie looks interesting, and I recognized Viola Davis (remember her from "Badge?") so off to Amazon.com I did go, and "bippity boppity boo" I downloaded it to my Kindle. It's like magic.
After all that roundaboutation -- sorry -- here is the quote from Aibileen, played by Viola Davis, that caught my eye and made me laugh. Aibileen is in the kitchen of her employer, Miss Leefolt, on her hands and knees cleaning the oven, trying to avoid a conversation with said Miss Leefolt. In fact, in her zeal to elude her proprietress, she relates through narration that, "Pretty soon my head's so far in that oven I look like I'm trying to gas myself." Aibileen remains on her hands and knees and continues to describe what it's like cleaning that oven, and eventually says, "Got to be the worst place in the world, inside an oven. You in here, you either cleaning or you getting cooked."
I am only a few pages into the book, but I know without a doubt that it will be a quick, enjoyable, and interesting read. And, while I likewise know that this story will be about so very much more than black maids cleaning ovens and washing dishes and picking up after “white folks,” I find myself inclined to agree with Aibileen; there are few things I detest more than cleaning a greasy, grimy, dirty oven.
Found the photo from "The Help" on Google...they're everywhere.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Eventually, she was indicted for the murder of Harold Gentry...the man I mentioned in my earlier post...the one I had met. She remained in jail for quite a while as I recall, but eventually her lawyer was able to get her out on bail, and she was -- evidently -- living with one of her daughters in Louisiana, awaiting a trial date, when she passed away earlier this week. If anyone is interested, this is one of the news articles I received in a Google Alert announcing her demise.
In my original post, I commented on the fact that I had a LOCI episode unfolding in my very own family, and I hoped that Bobby would be the one to find her out and wrangle the truth from her. Well, in true Dick Wolf "ripped from the headlines" fashion, the story was told, but on the SVU franchise, not LOCI. Oh, well...it's not the first time I've been disappointed in my life and certainly was not the last.
Most L & O "ripped" storylines started out with the basic premise of the true-life story, but then morphed into something else entirely along the way. (At least, that is how I remember them.) Anyway, the episode that showcased Cousin Betty's shady past was called "Ballerina" and starred Carol Burnett in a rare dramatic role. In this instance, the show began with an unrelated story, and turned into the "Black Widow." It is the only episode of SVU I have ever purchased...for obvious reasons...and the last one I ever watched.
So, this post concludes the sad but true tale of my Cousin Betty, the suspected "Black Widow." Dead at the ripe old age of 79, accused of committing numerous, horrendous crimes and ruining countless lives of the loved ones left behind. Did she do it? I guess we'll never know for sure; the truth died with her. One thing is for certain...she had some "splaining to do" when she reached the "other side."
Here is one final look at the old girl's mug shot.
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Monday, June 6, 2011
by Lynn Shepherd
Vincent D’Onofrio as Detective Robert Goren in Law & Order: Criminal Intent
-OR- was Detective Robert Goren a thief-taker in a previous life?
"I’ve been a fan of good TV crime drama for decades – whether the classic, English Inspector Morse, the brutally realistic Law & Order franchise, or the sassy-scientific CSI stable. What I didn’t realize until very recently, is that, whether I knew it or not, I was actually doing some extremely effective research for my much more recent career as a writer of murder mysteries. This probably won’t strike you as that odd—not, at least—until I tell you that my first book was set in 1811, at a time when England didn’t even have a basic police force, never mind specialist detectives or a murder squad. All my victim’s family could turn to was a hired ‘thief taker’—a professional bounty hunter who would undertake to track down the killer for a hefty fee. So what use could my encyclopaedic knowledge of Grissom, Benson, Briscoe; et. al., possibly be in those circumstances?
It wasn’t until I was a good way into my book – suspects nicely lined up, meaty motives assigned, corpse duly delivered – when I realized that my thief-taker’s investigation was starting to look eerily familiar. So here, with the benefit of hindsight, are three key things I learned from the TV cops…
‘When did you last see this woman?’: The power of the picture
Vincent D’Onofrio as Detective Robert Goren with a Suspect
England didn’t get a police force until 1829, but after 1748, London did have a semi-professional detective team. Known as the ‘Bow Street Runners’, and working out of the magistrates’ court on that same road, many of them were ex-thief-takers themselves, and gradually developed a number of detection techniques that sound surprisingly familiar. Like tracking criminals by their vehicle registration plates, or setting up ID parades.
One thing they couldn’t use, of course, were crime scene photos or mug-shots, like the ones you see the likes of Goren and Eames showing to their prime suspect, because there was no way of capturing images like that at the time. Or was there? In fact, Charles Maddox, my master thief-taker, goes to as much trouble as Robert Goren ever did to engineer the circumstances in which one of his principal suspects comes face to face with a likeness of his supposed victim. The conversation starts affably enough over a fire and a glass of good wine, and for a while it seems more like a conversation than a cross-examination. And if that’s sounding familiar, so it should, for just as in Criminal Intent, this nineteenth century suspect is all too easily lulled into a false sense of security, and it’s only then that he’s suddenly confronted with a portrait of the dead woman—a portrait he never even knew existed: “it was the very state of mind that Maddox had hoped to induce, and too fair an opportunity for a man of his stamp to decline...”
Cat and mouse: Playing the interrogation game
John Thaw as Inspector Morse with Kevin Whately as Sergeant Lewis
It’s Morse, based upon the novels of Colin Dexter, who comes to the fore for me here. I don’t go in for the ‘good cop, bad cop’ style of two-hander so beloved of most modern police procedurals, but I’ve obviously been influenced by the intellectual cut and thrust played out in a typical Morse interrogation. Maddox interviews everyone from the lady of the mansion to the under-servants, and just like Morse, he adapts his style to every tiny social nuance, and ruthlessly exploits weakness under cover of courtesy. And like Morse, Maddox relies as much on intelligence and intuition as he does on the physical evidence: as Morse himself might have said, “logic and observation, Miss Bertram, logic and observation. They are, you might say, the tools of my trade.”
Up close and personal: The postmortem
Tom Ward as Dr. Harry Cunningham, Emilia Fox as Dr. Nikki Alexander, and William Gaminara as Professor Leo Dalton in Silent Witness
After the killing, the victim’s brutalized body is brought back to the house, and Mary Crawford, the central female character, takes on herself the gruesome task of laying out the corpse for burial. Having seen dozens of episodes of CSI and its UK equivalent Silent Witness, I found the scene unfolding before my eyes in almost exactly that format, as Mary carefully removes the clothing from the body, notes the color and texture of the skin, and sees the exact nature of the injuries inflicted. So vivid are these images, in fact, that she’s later able to give Maddox the precise detail he needs to reconstruct the exact nature of the attack – the number of wounds, the type of weapon, and the fact that while the body was found lying on its back, there must – crucially - have been another, earlier blow that brought her down forwards onto her knees.
Mary plays the scientist here, to Maddox’s investigator, but as the plot unfolds they collaborate on a much more equal footing, and it’s only by working together that the crime is finally solved. So much so, in fact, that you might almost say they become – however briefly - the Benson and Stabler of the English Regency…"
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Well, except for the very "obvious" mistake of preferring Benson and Stabler to Goren and Eames, I thought the article was pretty much "up to snuff." What say you?
Saturday, June 4, 2011
Now, I'm off to do a bit of research on the new movie he mentioned. I doubt if I will see it; I don't much care for his "evil" roles, but I want to be "informed" before I decide completely.
Of course, I have no idea how long this link will stay "active" either, so I have downloaded the vid to my computer for safe keeping, too. For just as in law enforcement, when it pertains to VDO, a girl always needs back-up.